Sonography Principle and Instrumentation (SPI) test is a standardized test conducted by American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) for credentialing of sonography professionals. The sonography professionals who desire to get ARDMS credential require passing SPI examination and one of the specialty exams.
This test is taken by sonography professionals and students for earning ARDMS credentials. They have to pass one of the specialty exams within five year period after passing SPI. The specialty exams of abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, neurosonology or obstetrics and gynecology lead to Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) credential. The specialty exams of adult echocardiography, fetal echocardiography or pediatric echocardiography lead to Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) credential. The specialty exam of vascular technology heads toward Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) credential.
SPI test examines knowledge of basic physical principles and instrumentation required by the ultrasound professionals. The content of this exam includes patient care, safety and communication (5% of test), physics principle (20% of test), Ultrasound transducers (20% of test), Pulse echo instrumentation (30% of test), Doppler instrumentation and hemodynamics (20% of test) and Quality assurance / quality control of equipment (5% of test).
The topics covered in patient care, safety and communication are “patient identification and documentation”, “patient interaction”, “emergency situations”, “universal precautions”, “verification of requested examination” and “Bio-effects and ALARA”. “Properties of ultrasound waves”, “Power, intensity and amplitude”, “interaction of sound with tissue” and “units of measurement” form the content of physics principles section. The Ultrasound transducers section covers topics like “transducer construction and characteristics”, “transducer types”, “special resolution” and “transducer selection”. The pulse-echo instrumentation section is based on knowledge of “display modes and their formation”, “transmission of ultrasound”, “reception of ultrasound”, “beam former”, “post processing of ultrasound signals”, “pulse-echo imaging artifacts”, “tissue harmonic imaging”, “recording and storage devices” and “real time ultrasound instrumentation”. The Doppler instrumentation and hemodynamics section tests ability to acquire color flow image, Doppler spectral image, take measurements from spectral waveform and knowledge of hemodynamics. The quality assurance/quality control of equipment section is based on know-how of preventive maintenance, malfunctions and performance testing with phantoms.
There are 120 multiple choice questions in test. The time allotted for administering SPI is 2 hours. This exam is administered in computer based testing mode. It is a criterion referenced exam, so the candidates are examined in respect to a set standard instead of, in respect to performance of other candidates.
The examinees are awarded scaled scores ranging from 300 to 700. It needs a score of 555 or higher to pass this examination. Some of the questions in test are not scored, however these items are indistinguishable.
For taking this test, candidates have to apply online and create a password protected account. The applicants have option to pay examination fees online or send by mail. They require mailing all supporting documents to ARDMS. ARDMS verifies the documents and checks eligibility of a candidate to take the test. It sends a confirmation letter within two to four weeks from receiving documents and notifies 90 days period in which SPI test can be scheduled and taken. The candidates who fail in exam can retest after waiting period of 60 days.
The fee of SPI is $200 which includes non-refundable processing fee of $100. There is additional charge of $50 for international testing. This additional fee has to be submitted at the time of examination and could be changed without notice.